Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020 (Online) – Free Films and Workshops Via YouTube and Zoom October 24/25

I wrote two news posts on Anime UK News covering the Kotatsu Festival and have decided to merge them here.

Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival Banner

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020 is a free two-day event (Oct 24-25) where a whole host of animation and workshops will be online for anybody around the world to view. If you are an animation student or just curious about Japanese animation, this is an unmissable occasion because you can interact with real-deal award-winning animators and you can watch different works made by professionals and students from across Japan. All that is required is an internet connection to view things via the fest’s YouTube channel and to attend workshops via Zoom.


The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival has announced that it will hold its 10th anniversary celebration on October 24th and 25th with a line-up of screenings and events people will be able to participate in for free via the festival’s YouTube channel and through various Zoom sessions.

Over the course of two days, the festival will screen 40 films, including 30 works from students studying at 5 different Japanese universities, such as Tama Art University and Kyoto Seika, as well as 10 works from 5 award-winning animators, including Oscar nominated Koji Yamamura (who I last wrote about here) whose latest films, Dreams Into Drawing and Water Dreams, will be shown.

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The full list of professional animators also includes Makiko Watanabe, Shin Hosokawa, Chie Arai and Miho Yata.

The full list of universities is Tokyo Zokei University, Tama Art University, Kyoto Seika University, Hiroshima City University, and Kyoto University of the Arts. There are introduction from course leaders and the students who made their works, so this is a great chance to see the next generation of talent and emerging trends in Japanese/world animation. The titles include The Balloon Catcher by Isaku Kaneko which was at Annecy earlier this year.

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This will also be the first time that Kotatsu collaborates with F-Rated, an organisation dedicated to supporting women in film, and it has secured an F-Rating for its ongoing campaign to show the works of female film makers and also for this event where 75% of the films are directed by women.


Here is the full line-up of events/films (all times GMT):

Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 10th Anniversary Timetable

24th October 

11:00 YouTube Screening – Films by Koji Yamamura, Shin Hosokawa, Miho Yata, Chie Arai, Makiko Sukikara

13:00 Zoom Event – Miho Yata / Takeshi Yoda – Director & Musician Q&A

18:00YouTube Screening – Student Work (Part 1)



25th October   

12:00 Zoom Event – Chie Arai Animation Workshop

14:00 Zoom Event – Fusako Yusaki Director Q&A and Clay Animation Workshop

16:00 YouTube Screening – Student Work (Part 2)

18:00 YouTube Screening – Films by Koji Yamamura, Shin Hosokawa, Miho Yata, Chie Arai, Makiko Sukikara


Alongside the films, the Japan Foundation London and Kotatsu Festival have arranged free online workshops via Zoom that will allow participants to meet the creators behind some of the works being screened. All that is required to join is advanced booking. The details are as follows:


Knitting into Animation

Online Talk with YATA Miho and YODA Takeshi

Who could have imagined that colourful wool threads could be transformed into a cute and fun animation with lots of sheep! YATA Miho, a Japanese animation creator, mesmerized viewers when her work was streamed as part of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival special in July. Together with YODA Takeshi, composer and theremin player who performed the memorable music in The King of Amechau Country, they will talk about their creative processes and their sources of inspiration in this online talk. Their presentations will be followed by a conversation with Abigail Addison.

Saturday, 24 October from 13:00 (GMT)

Book here


Animation Workshop with ARAI Chie

Online Workshop

ARAI Chie is the creator behind the twinkling and friendly mascot of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival. She is also an animator who created the festival’s opening animations and other short films. Her drawings are quite often seen in the form of flip books, and bring to mind a similarity to manga. In this workshop, she will explain where the idea for the cute character came from, illustrating step-by-step the process of her creation. Participants will be invited to join a brief session in which they can try and test their skill on paper to check their potential for being a future animator! Moderated by Shangomola, a London based manga artist.

Sunday, 25 October from 12:00 (GMT)

Book here


Clay Metamorphosis

Online Talk with YUSAKI Fusako

Having lived and worked in Italy, YUSAKI Fusako is an award-wining female creator and a pioneer of Japanese clay animation. Metamorphosing clay into a lively animation rich in colours defines her work and her philosophy: nothing remains the same. In this very special talk, in conversation with Robin Lyons – a producer of animation works and the Managing Director of Calon – YUSAKI will explore her long-standing career and how her life and work has changed shape like the ever-malleable materials she loves. This is a rare opportunity not to be missed.

Sunday, 25 October from 14:00 (GMT)

Book here

All events listed above are free. For a full schedule of films and events, please check the festival website.

Notes on the Animators and Musician:

Koji Yamamura

Yamamura Koji (山村 浩二)

After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University in 1987, he founded Yamamura Animation, Inc. in 1993 and has worked steadily, refining his style while making films for children. His most famous work is the short “Mount Head” (2002) which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short. Other titles include “Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor” (2007) and “Muybridge’s Strings” (2011). His films have been awarded more than 90 prizes including the grand prizes of major international animation festivals such as Annecy, Ottawa and Hiroshima. He has also received the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 2019. He is member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a professor of Tokyo University of the Arts.


Yusaki Fusako (湯崎夫沙子)

Yusaki is an award-winning claymation pioneer who emerged in the 1960s after moving to Milan and establishing her own independent studio, Studio Yusaki. Her works consist of commercials, films, and children’s television programmes which were made for public broadcasters such as RAI and NHK. Yusaki’s famous works include claymation advertisements for the liqueur Fernet-Branca, and “Peo the Blue Dog”, a popular TV character in Switzerland. Yusaki will lead a claymation workshop and do a Q&A with Kotatsu.


Yata Miho (やたみほ)

Born 1974, Yata studied Children’s Literature and Children’s Culture at university. While studying, she was inspired by “Wallace and Gromit” and started to have an interest on stop motion animation. In 1999 she started knit-animation and creating picture books. Since then, she has become famous for “Wool Fairies Knit and Wool”(NHK・NEP)and the picture books “Sakasa mo Sakasa” (Demadosha Co.,Ltd.) “What is This Yan?”(CHILD HONSHA Co., Ltd.). She is currently a member of the Japan Animation Association and she is teaching at Shirayuri University Department of Children’s Culture.


Hosokawa Shin (細川晋)

A graduate of Tama Art University’s Master’s Program Design Course, he now works as a writer, director, animator and is an assistant professor at Tokyo Polytechnic University. His latest work, “Dino!”, a stop motion animation, has been programmed by Kotatsu.



Arai Chie (荒井 知恵)

A graduate from the Department of Fine Arts, Northern Arizona University, after working at an animation studio, Arai has been a freelancer since 2002. Her techniques include hand-drawn animation and illustration and she creates books and animation videos including “Dreams”(2008), which has been programmed by Kotatsu. Since 2006, she has been orchestrating “Flip Book Manga Cafe Exhibition”, a collective of writers and artists who love to make wonderfully varied flip books. Their exhibitions have been held in many places. As well as creating her own art, she guides others and works as an associate professor at Bunka Gakuen University Department of Art and Design.


MakikoSukikaraSukikara Makiko (鋤柄真希子)

Born in 1982, Sukikara studied at the Film School Zlin in the Czech Republic. Since 2010, she has been animating and has created works by multiplane camera, many of which have been screened at international festivals. She creates stories with animals as the main characters with titles like “While the Crow Weeps” (2013) and “Deep Sea’s Rainbow”(2019). The latter has been programmed for Kotatsu’s forthcoming stream.


Yoda Takeshi (ヨダタケシ)

Yoda is a composer who plays an electronic instrument known as a theremin, a device that makes sound without the musician touching it. He is active across genres and creates music for video works as well as for live events. He will be in a Q&A with Miho Yata during a Kotatsu Zoom session.


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